Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has warned the country’s crime intelligence unit that he is going after rogue elements within it, and that they are not immune to the law.
News24 can reveal that it is suspected that rogue crime intelligence activities are linked to, among other matters, the underworld nightclub security takeover which has resulted in violence around Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Several murders have played out in the Western Cape as a result of this underworld battle.
Rogue elements are also suspected to be at play in the smuggling of police firearms to criminals – a problem at the heart of South Africa’s biggest ever illicit firearm smuggling investigation – as well as the possible spying of top politicians.
On Tuesday, Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga told News24: “If there are any criminal elements in crime intelligence, the law of this country must bite.
“The minister is aware of rogue elements in crime intelligence.”
South Africa’s intelligence-gathering policing unit has been rocked by several back-to-back scandals.
According to several sources, with close links to crime intelligence, the unit is in disarray.
Sources have told News24 that they fear high-level probes are being intentionally derailed by colleagues to protect, among others, politicians who are involved.
They also suspect that targets of their intelligence gathering may actually be protected by other highly influential state figures and that, therefore, their work is futile.
In August, the crime intelligence unit’s acting head Major-General Pat Mokushane was fired. He had lacked security clearance.
Mhaga on Tuesday told News24 that Mbalula had visited heads of the unit last week.
Crime intel given ‘specific tasks’
“He gave them specific tasks.”
Mhaga did not elaborate on these tasks, but said further details would be conveyed in a few weeks.
He said Mbalula was trying to “bring back” crime intelligence members.
Asked if Mbalula was looking into whether rogue elements were orchestrating underworld activities, particularly when it came to nightclub security, as well as the smuggling of police guns with the help of cops, Mhaga said: “There are a whole lot of issues the minister will have to look at.”
Last week, Mbalula spoke out about a total of 33 firearms which recently went missing from two Western Cape police stations – Bellville South and Mitchells Plain.
He said the guns, with the help of police officers, had likely ended up in the hands of gangsters.
Audits of firearms at all of the Western Cape’s 151 police stations would therefore be conducted.
The problem of rogue elements within police and crime intelligence was so serious that Mbalula viewed it as a priority and was, therefore, speaking out on it.
“We don’t hide anything. What is important is what is being done. He’s given them the rule book and what needs to be done,” Mhaga said of Mbalula’s recent interactions with crime intelligence representatives.
He said, contrary to other media reports, Mbalula’s relationship with the country’s top police officer, acting national commissioner Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, remained as it had always been.
The Star on Tuesday reported that Mbalula and Mothiba were at loggerheads, as the minister believed Mothiba and rogue elements were targeting him.
But Mhaga said this was not the case and that their relationship had not eroded.
Mhaga said Mbalula and Mothiba, who he described as “gentlemen”, met nearly every day.
Slush fund plundered
Crime intelligence has recently also been the focus of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
IPID, according to a letter to police dated September 1 and seen by News24, alleged that half a million rand from the crime intelligence secret slush fund was awarded to a blinds installation company that does not actually exist.
This had happened around February 2013.
IPID, in its letter, asked that Major-General Obed Nemutanzhela, who heads the slush fund, be suspended as he is seen to be hampering an investigation into the possible theft of state funds. – News24